Moray Speyside‘s light soils and benevolent climate make the region a must-do for gardeners, with many plants thriving further north than might be expected.
From large gardens linked to castles, to smaller intimate gardens in private homes which are upkept solely by the householder.
The formal grounds of Ballindalloch Castle were created in the second half of the 19th Century, following extensive restorations to the Castle around 1850. The extensive lawns reach towards to the River Avon (pronounced Aan) that bounds the castle grounds to the west of the castle. The Courtyard Garden, enclosed on 3 sides, is a classic formal garden, while the Walled Garden is less formal, redesigned in 1995 to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Castle, includes the Rose Garden, and is full of colour and scent.
There is a dedicated 2-acre dog-walking area however, due to the nature of the Gardens and the ground-nesting birds and red squirrels, dogs are not permitted in the Castle grounds and gardens. An area where cars with dogs can be parked in the shade is set aside for sunny days.
There is a gift shop at the castle, and a tearoom.
Elgin Biblical Gardens and Cathedral
Just a stone’s throw from the town’s Cooper Park and Elgin Cathedral the Biblical Gardens are an absolute treat. The Gardens are three acres in size and contain all 110 plants mentioned in the bible. There are life-sized statues of figures from some of the parables mentioned in the bible, including The Good Shepherd. There are paved pathways, which form the shape of a Celtic cross (but this is only visible from above).
Once done exploring the Biblical Garden, visit the Cathedral, also known as the ‘Lantern of the North’. The Cathedral is host to the largest headstone in Scotland.
Gordon Castle Walled Gardens
Gordon Castle Walled Gardens are one of Scotland’s largest walled gardens, at 8 acres in size, and they are one of the oldest walled gardens in the country. The garden was used for over 30 years as a commercial raspberry farm but fell into disuse in the mid-1980s. In recent years the garden has seen a mass of restoration work, and there is so much to enjoy there. The gardens boast over 250 espaliered trees (trees which grow against walls) as well as flowers, herbs, and vegetables. The famous Gordon Castle Gin is made using botanicals from the gardens, and the Walled Garden Café uses the vegetable produce to create some fantastic food to polish off a lovely day out.
Within the Walled Garden there is a terrific natural play area with a mud kitchen, keeping small minds entertained for hours regardless of the weather. The space has been created almost entirely with material reclaimed from the Gordon Castle Estate (castle walls, storm blown logs, gravel, rocks, and plants from the garden) and the layout really encourages your children to let their imagination run wild as they learn about the diversity of nature, and they will use their mind to overcome little challenges in the park.
Burgie Arboretum lies on the Burgie Estate near Forres, just off the A96. The Arboretum is split into zones of geographic areas and species types. It includes a bog garden, a Japanese Garden, a loch, and a quarry garden.
The garden is simply breathtaking, while still being very much a work in progress. There is an abundance of unusual trees from around the world and boasts an abundance of flourishing fauna.
Visit the Burgie Arboretum Website to find out more.
Over the years Grant Park has won many awards from Britain in Bloom, and this is all down to the townsfolk of Forres who all rally together to maintain one of the most beautiful parks in the area. It boasts fantastic floral gardens, and the sunken gardens which are nothing short of picturesque.
Grant Park has the most stunning backdrop of Cluny Hill, which is host to Nelsons Tower which was built in honour of Lord Nelson in 1806. On a clear day, from the top of the tower you can see as far as The Black Isle, right up in North Scotland. On days the flag is flying, it is possible to go up to the top of the tower to absorb the breath-taking views.
The park was gifted to the folk of Forres back in 1923 and has been treasured by the townsfolk right up to the current day. A visit to Grant Park wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Mathers Ice Cream shop which lies just next to a fantastic playpark which will keep the family well entertained.
Other Gardens in Moray Speyside
There are other large gardens in the Moray Speyside region which are worth a visit are
- Brodie Castle Gardens is sat on 70 acres of land just a mile away from the A96, which also boasts the fantastic Playful Garden and a café.
- Logie House Walled Gardens backs on to the River Findhorn. With adventurous walks, a fishery, shops, and a café. It is also within walking distance from the Dava Way.
- Glen Grant Distillery Garden is situated a stone’s throw from the distillery visitor centre shop and has a great takeaway coffee shop.
There are some stunning private gardens throughout Moray Speyside which are open at specific times each year.
For more information on these gardens please visit the Scotland’s Gardens Website
- 10 Pilmuir Road West in Forres with 150 different varieties of snowdrops
- Haugh Garden in Roseisle
- Glebe House in Urquhart
- Cuthberts Brae in Buckie
- An-Grianan in Rafford
- Blackhills Estate Garden near Elgin